MVP Ching leads Houston to title
By Andrew Hush
Special to The Advertiser
By Andrew Hush
FRISCO, Texas — Brian Ching dragged his Houston Dynamo back into the game and then helped seal the victory with a nerveless penalty in a shootout to clinch the MLS Cup, 4-3 on penalty kicks yesterday over the New England Revolution.
Ching, named the MVP of the game, had been effectively marked by the New England defense throughout the game, but took his opportunity at the right time. The Revolution were still celebrating Taylor Twellman's goal in the 113th minute when Brian Mullan's center took a deflection on its way to the penalty area, where Ching was waiting.
"I think that everyone in the stadium that was a Houston fan and all the players on the field were like 'oh, (rats),' " said Ching after the game. "But, immediately after that I just thought 'Okay, I'm going to do everything I can to score a goal. I wasn't going to give up and that has been the mentality of our team all year long. You've got to fight to the death or until you pass out."
Ching's goal came just 71 seconds after the Revolution scored, tying the game at 1-1.
"As soon as they scored, there were about seven minutes left, we just went for it. We were fortunate, but I knew Mullan was going to get a cross in and that's what makes me a goalscorer, being in the box. The ball fell to me and I was fortunate enough to put it in."
Houston carried the momentum that Ching had given them into the penalty shootout and, after he dispatched his side's fourth spot kick with aplomb, the scene was set for Houston keeper Pat Onstad to save Jay Heaps' penalty kick and spark a wild celebration on the Pizza Hut Park field.
As Ching, who is a graduate of Kamehameha High School, soaked in the occasion, his coach, Dominic Kinnear, spoke about Houston's savior and praised him for hanging tough and capitalizing on his chance when it finally came.
"You have to make the most of your opportunities," Kinnear said. "You have to be on your toes for anything that comes your way and, especially given the circumstances, that takes a lot of courage to just bolt into the box like that and his finish was pretty clinical. It was difficult because with the deflection he had to readjust. But he did, and to get the snap on the ball he did was pretty impressive."
To play such a huge role in a final was especially sweet for Ching, who was forced to watch San Jose's 2003 championship from the sidelines following a ruptured Achilles tendon.
"I watched our team through the 2003 playoffs and it was hard for me to celebrate that," he said. "This was my opportunity to do that. It was my first cup as a player on the field and I just can't describe how happy I am."
This was the Dynamo's first year in Houston since it relocated from San Jose, Calif.